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China's Wanda in talks to buy Golden Globes producer

CHINESE conglomerate Wanda is considering ramping up its push into Hollywood with the acquisition of the production company behind the Golden Globes, the US firm said Monday.

Eldridge Industries, which controls Dick Clark Productions, said discussions to sell the company to Wanda were part of a move to conduct a "strategic review" of its media holdings.

"Dick Clark Productions and Beijing Wanda Culture Industry Group Co., Ltd., have agreed to enter into exclusive talks with the shared goal of finalizing a mutually satisfactory transaction," Eldridge said in a statement.

Although it did not disclose financial aspects of the talks, reports in The Wall Street Journal and the Hollywood Reporter said the price discussed could be a billion dollars or so.

The Journal and Reporter cited unnamed sources.

Owned by one of the country's richest men, billionaire Wang Jianlin, Wanda is seeking to shift its focus from property to services and entertainment as profits wane in China's real estate sector.

Wanda would be a main contender for Dick Clark Productions, which bills itself on its website as "the world's largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming."

The company's productions include the American Music Awards, the Miss America beauty pageant, Billboard Music Awards, and the Golden Globe Awards.

The news reports stressed that talks with Wanda were at a very early stage, with a potential purchase price undetermined.

- Goal: Major Hollywood player -

Wanda announced plans last week to invest in movies produced by Sony Pictures under an agreement that moves the company closer to its goal of becoming a major Hollywood player.

The movie deal, Wanda's first with one of Hollywood's so-called "Big Six" studios, was a major milestone for the conglomerate as it attempts to transform itself into a heavy-hitter in the global entertainment industry.

Wanda has expanded aggressively overseas, snapping up a string of assets in Europe and the United States in recent years.

In January, the company acquired US production company Legendary Entertainment for US$3.5 billion. Wanda's founder Wang also financed the movie "Spotlight" which won the Oscar for best picture this year.

The company has also pursued numerous deals in the international sports arena, including the acquisition of the Iron Man triathlon, but Wang has made it clear he has his sights set on Hollywood.

In July, Wanda was reportedly in talks to buy a stake in another "Big Six" US film studio Paramount Pictures.

The company's buying spree extends to brick-and-mortar investments: It bought US movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment in 2012 for US$2.6 billion, which in turn acquired the London-based Odeon & UCI cinema group in a deal worth around US$1.2 billion.

Wanda also has a partnership agreement with North American entertainment giant IMAX Corp. to open cinemas in China.

In May it launched operations at its first theme park -- a US$3.4 billion project in Nanchang -- in an bid to compete with "big six" studio Disney, which opened its own US$5.5 billion resort a month later, its first in mainland China.




 

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